The Reformation’s Evil Stepchild

Posted on July 3, 2019

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By David Ettinger

The Good and the Bad
Let me say up front that the Reformation is one of the greatest things ever to happen to Christianity. Let me also say that the foremost leader of the Reformation, Martin Luther, did the Church an immense service with the bold and courageous stand he took against the corrupted Catholic Church of his day. Furthermore, his teaching on salvation by faith in Christ alone is not only the benchmark doctrine upon which the Church stands, but that Luther’s resolute focus upon it is another of the Church’s greatest gifts.

That said, the Reformation has also produced an errant offshoot – and evil stepchild – that being Replacement Theology. This foul teaching asserts that the Church has replaced Israel, and that God’s Old Testament promises to Israel are no longer valid. Worse, many believe these Old Testament promises not only do not belong to Israel, but have been transferred to the Church.

One of the heinous results of Replacement Theology has been – to some degree unintentional, to another very intentional – anti-Semitism. Much of Reformation Europe in the centuries following Luther has ridden the back of Replacement Theology to persecute the Jewish people to satanic degrees. This is to be expected from a school of thinking whose creator (Luther) had written a book in 1543 titled, On the Jews and Their Lies. In it:

  • Luther argued that Jewish synagogues and schools should be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, Jewish homes burned, and their property and money confiscated.
  • Furthermore, he wrote that Jews should be shown no mercy or kindness, afforded no legal protection, and “these poisonous envenomed worms should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time.” He also seems to advocate their murder, writing “[W]e are at fault in not slaying them.”
  • Luther described the Jewish people as a “base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth.”
  • Additionally, Luther wrote that the Jews are “full of the devil’s feces … which they wallow in like swine,” and that the synagogue in which they worship is an “incorrigible whore and an evil slut.”

Yes, there were some clergyman who rebuked such hatred, but not many.

The Legacy
Fortunately, practically every Reformation church today abhors these writings of Luther, but they nonetheless hold to their errant Replacement Theology beliefs. This has led to a legacy of regarding the Jews as enemies of Christ, and the modern conception of the nation of Israel as the bully of the surrounding Arab and Palestinian people, regardless of the political facts.

Another legacy of Replacement Theology are the weak arguments its adherents make against believers who love Israel and believe God will fulfill His Old Testament promises to her.

One of these arguments – and one I am tired of hearing – is that God does not save people based on particular religious background. In other words, Replacement Theology proponents hold that Israel supporters believe all Jews will be saved simply because they are born Jewish. This is nonsense. We are fully aware of John the Baptist’s words to the Jewish people: “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham” (Matthew 3:9). Christian supporters of Israel absolutely concur that there is no salvation outside of Jesus Christ. SALVATION IS THROUGH CHRIST ALONE FOR ALL PEOPLE; there are no exceptions.

We are also (or should be) aware of the confusion caused by Romans 11:26, “all Israel will be saved.” This clearly speaks of a small remnant of the Jewish people who will come to know Christ at the very end of the age, not every Jew who has ever lived. And yes, this WILL be the time when God fulfills His Old Testament promises to the Jewish people.

READ MY ARTICLE: “WILL ALL ISRAEL BE SAVED?”

Furthermore, I hear such Replacement Theology teachers as Hank Hanegraaff and Alistair Begg treat supporters of Israel as some kind of fringe sect of the faith and only refer to those preachers who take their support to extreme degrees such as John Hagee. Yet they neglect to mention that such esteemed Bible teachers as John MacArthur, David Jeremiah, and Chuck Swindoll firmly believe that God’s promises to Israel stand and that God will fulfill them. (See the 9-minute video below featuring John MacArthur, particularly beginning at 3:20.)

The Bottom Line
The bottom line regarding Replacement Theology – the Reformation’s wicked stepchild – is that it is an attack on the very nature and credibility of God. It audaciously takes the very literal promises of God to a people and then makes the unsupported leap in logic to say that they now belong to the Church.

If God does not keep His promises to Israel, how do you know God will keep His promises to you? If God tells Israel one thing, and then says, “Never mind, I’ve had a change of heart,” how do you know He won’t say the same to you? Tragically, the disgraceful belief known as Replacement Theology has stained the otherwise noble Reformation. I’m looking forward to Christ’s return and the eradication of this theological plague.

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